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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Carnival Saving Tips

Coming off my post on Carnival, The Recession and You here are some tips that are hopefully useful for those of us determined to enjoy Carnival 2010 and feel free to add anything you think that can help in cutting costs!

*Shop for airfare early
This might be a difficult one to execute in today's unknown when it comes to job security and you never know if airlines might slash prices later on in the year. So far airline prices are not going DOWN and in fact I am surprised at the high cost t o some destinations. As a consequence you can start looking at flights now and compare prices to decide if it is wise to purchase now or wait until later.

*Cut down on time spent in Trinidad
If you are one of those people who simply cannot sacrifice a hotel and the freedom that brings to stay with family in order to save money how about staying in Trinidad for a shorter period of time? I know people who came in on Carnival SATURDAY, went to one fete, jouvert, played mas on Monday and Tuesday and were on a flight back home on Ash Wednesday!

*Recycle and Reuse
When it comes to foot wear it is pretty easy to recycle your well worn in boots for another year. Afro Chic has advised on how to do this; if your boots are decorated, strip the decoration off, use sand paper to remove the spray paint and/or glitter, then when you are ready to reuse the boots just spray it with a primer and then spray it any colour you desire. If your boots are undecorated but won't match your costume for the following year two cans of spray paint may be the cheaper option instead of getting new boots!

Another idea is to assemble a Carnival "stuff" bag or drawer or kit or box; you just want someplace to stash all the stuff that you bought for Carnival including makeup, glitter, braid, feathers, accessories, gel insoles etc. When you take stock all the stuff you have accumulated over the years you will be surprised at what you can reuse! For example, this year I didn't need to look for a pouch to match what I was wearing on Monday, I found an old one that worked quite well.

Speaking about Monday Wear, you do not HAVE to order extra boy shorts to match your costume (for those not getting Monday Wear that is). Over the years I am sure you have amassed lots of spandex boy shorts, worn only once for Carnival, lying around somewhere .You can reuse one of those on Monday instead; if it does not match the section you are in I am sure it will match another section so don't even worry that it does not go with your costume unless you plan on wearing the shorts on Tuesday too!

Since clothing trends are also recycled every season, you do not need to purchase a brand new wardrobe for Carnival either.Your spring and summer clothing can easily be reused for the following year,

*Shop the sales
Take advantage of the end of season sales for sandals, tops and shorts! Stores usually start getting ridding of Summer clothing in August , after August prices drop dramatically. If you do online or catalog shopping stores will have the merchandise longer, but they will put out a separate clearance catalog and then the main catalog will show their new season stuff for fall and winter. Most websites also have a separate section for clearance and even hard to find items can sometimes be sourced by calling the store. When my Victoria Secrets bra was not showing the size on sale my friend called them up and they directed her where to get it at a store closest to her.

*Eliminate some of the services you partake of for Carnival
So the trend is to try and save money on things that you do not necessarily need but want anyway. Hiring a makeup artist is pretty cool, especially if it is someone who does a great job. However, you do not have to use a makeup artist if you devote some time to practicing makeup looks. You can even recycle some of the makeup you bought for Carnivals past ( I mean how many times are you going to use fuchsia pink and crimson eye shadow in day to day life?) and get some friends together before Carnival to have a little makeup trial session. There must be someone in your "crew" proficient enough in applying makeup to show you some tips and if all else fails youtube does have lots of tutorials!

If you cannot afford to get the individual or extreme lashes done and do not mind having diva length lashes for just one day you can always use the strip lashes which are much cheaper. The caveat for me is that this takes practice to apply, I am amazed at anyone who does it right! Also, instead of a acrylic nails you can do the stick on nails that last a week. I tried the Kiss brand this year and amazingly they DID stay on long after Carnival and I applied them on Carnival Tuesday morning!

*Upgrade on your own to a backline PLUS
If you are a on a backline budget with frontline taste there are several ways to upgrade your backline costume. The first thing you can try is contacting the section leader and asking for something extra done to your costume for less than it would cost to go full on frontline. If this fails you can find someone who will add the extras for you for a fee, there are many producers if contacted in time will add extra feathers to your headpiece for you or even make you a small backpack for example . If you are VERY artistic you can upgrade your costume yourself, only thing it will cost is the additional materials. A back pack frame is pretty inexpensive or you can do what someone told me they are doing next year and strip down and old backpack to spruce up their backline costume for 2010! If all else fails you can scour the costume resale sites for masqueraders selling large headpieces or backpacks when they realise they do not want all the extras that come with the frontline. Usually you can get these pieces for a reasonable price!

* Rethink the fetes
To me this one is a no-brainer, to others they MUST go to every fete every Carnival season. If you insist on the Groundhog Day syndrome that affects all fetes Carnival week (same people, same artistes, same exact routine every night) then at least be discerning and choose the fetes you attend wisely. Try and secure tickets early as fete prices are not static in Trinidad, the first wave is one price and then they keep going up!

*Start a Carnival Fund
With four months left to start of band launching season Carnival 2010 will descend upon us before you even know it. The sooner you start saving, the more money will be in your fund by the time you are ready to register in August. My mantra is always to budget, budget, budget so take some time, do a budget for the entire year taking into consideration your monthly expenses so you can have a clearer idea on exactly how much you can save for Carnival. And please save for a "rainy day" as well; do not put ALL your savings in the Carnival fund! There is life beyond Carnival and my other mantra is do not go into debt for Carnival either. No credit cards to pay for your costume (unless you plan on paying off the entire amount immediately )or loans! Think about the interest that accumulates when you are in debt and the months after Carnival that you will still be paying back for that expense!

Scale Back on the Socializing
Some people are always in everything, you know the ones who post all their photos on facebook and you have to wonder if their life is a series of one party after another and hobnobbing at the hottest events never wearing the same outfit twice. What I wonder is if they won the lotto, their daddy's name is Sagba, they must know all the right people for free tickets and "comps" or if they live pay check to pay check to keep up with that lifestyle. Yes, there are those who can simply "roll like that", but too many people I know are partying every weekend without even a pot to piss in! Listen, you do not HAVE to be in everything if you cannot afford it. We are no longer living a lie to keep with the Joneses people; didn't the housing crash in the US teach anyone anything? It is pretty simple to live comfortably within your means; do not spend more than you can afford, reduce your debt and save for a rainy day.

So if you know you want to play mas and "pappyshow" yourself in all the fetes for 2010 but your salary does not allow you to do that AND afford rounds of drinks at 51 Degrees or Corner Bar every weekend, attending everything you are invited too including the opening of an envelope plus following the crowd to Crop Over and Miami Carnival there is no harm in saying "nah, I staying in tonight!". Invite some friends over, have house and beach limes and know the joy that comes from watching your money sitting in your bank account instead of wondering how you are going to get gas money to get to work after a weekend of hanging your hat where it simply cannot reach!
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